Oct 19 2010

Little Miss Muffet

“Here is my question,” announces blamer JenniferRuth. “Can arachnophobia be blamed on the patriarchy?”

The answer is yes! Patriarchy is the gnarly firmament of dominant culture, and nothing may exist outside it; therefore absolutely everything can be blamed on it.

This, friends, is the beauty of patriarchy-blaming. Whenever one encounters, in the course of her daily flailings, anything untoward, unjust, illogical, wrong, asinine, violent, destructive, or mediocre, there can be no doubt that patriarchy is at the root of it. Got bunions? Blame patriarchy for misogynist shoe designers. Stuck in a Chilean coal mine? Blame patriarchy for the megatheocorporatocratic greed that exploits you. Suffering from irrational fear of spiders? Point your claw at the institutionalized English-speaking anti-spiderism commencing in 1805 with the first edition of “Little Miss Muffet,” jut out your chin, and cry out “j’accuse!”

Chads and other antifeminist fuckbags often flip out when they hear an Internet feminist aver that patriarchy — that is, the culture of domination — is responsible for much of the world’s unpleasantness. Their flip-outs are funny and sad; the Chad never lived who understood even roughly what patriarchy even is. But this is the Internet, where ignorance fuels passion, and where a Chad’s job is to strenuously object to the blamer’s irrefutable evidence that patriarchy exists. Often he attempts this by denouncing the patriarchy blamer as a paranoid nutjob.

Consider this remark from Ralph, recently submitted to an old post on Shulamith Firestone.

Someone wrote, ‘Patriarchy is the problem.’ Isn’t this just a convenient scapegoat. Blame everything on some abstract concept called ‘The Patriarchy.’ Who is in this group anyway: the gentleman sitting behind you, the young man in the suit, the guy on the bus? All men. All evil.

But, women can be members too. Those poor, foolish, misguided creatures.

‘The Patriarchy’ is in control right? We’d better identify its members and take care of them immediately.

What I love about this idea is it’s perfect for conspiracy theorists.

Ralph has gotten it into his head that patriarchy is both an “abstract concept” and a secret cabal of evil dudes the existence of which lies entirely in the imaginations of delusional loonies like, presumably, me. Like so many Chads before him, Ralph appears to be unaware that patriarchy isn’t an imaginary Mean Man Guild, but a global social order based on the fetishization of domination and submission, to which he himself is unwittingly subject. Ralph, in fact, demonstrates perfect assimilation by attempting to exercise dudely dominance on this very blog. Unfortunately for Ralph, this is a patriarchy-blaming blog, so he only ends up looking silly, but the point is, he is a shining example of patriarchy’s exquisite self-perpetuating design. By invoking the power of dudeliness with which it has invested him, he simultaneously denies its existence and defends it. “Patriarchy is a crock and I’m here to dominate you, stupid Internet feminist!”

Ralph, if you have the good sense to be reading this, I urge you to cast your status-quo-lovin’ eye around the putrid abattoir that passes for human civilization and ponder, just for 3 minutes, whether domination and submission is, in fact, the most desirable model for a world order.

In this charming illustration of arachnophobia, a little boy is shown inflicting terror on a little girl, just, apparently, for the hell of it. In the pornulated illustration at the top of the post, a big boy depicts a big girl upon whom terror is also inflicted for his amusement. “Boys will be boys” is one of the three cornerstones of patriarchy. The other two are “terrified chicks are hot,” “no means yes,” and “lighten up, can’t you take a joke?”

Illustrations: Pornulated Miss Muffet: jeremeyes.wordpress.com ; Creepy boy with spider: Wikipedia Commons


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  1. tinfoil hattie

    Thank you for this. I had the pleasure of hearing our out-of-town houseguest pontificate on the recipient of Brett Favre’s dick photos – “Did you see how she dresses? Did you see her cleavage and her makeup?” Therefore, Brett Favre had the right to send her pictures of his ugly ol’ dick. I kept verifying: “So therefore, Favre has the right to send her photos of his dick?” “Well, she seems to be someone who is comfortable with her sexuality!” Me: “So therefore, Favre has the right to send her photos of his dick?”

    Of course he does.

    BTW Guest presented this mansplanation with his 14-year-old daughter sitting at rapt attention. And he denied the existence of patriarchy, because “I don’t see every woman everywhere as a victim.”

    It was a tedious weekend.

  2. Cthandhs

    Sing it Twisty! Scaring women is a god-damn American Pastime. Particularly if it involves threatening them sexually. Those Chads out there gotta remind us that (1) Men are in control (2) Men are the only source of protection and (3) Men can fuck us up, either themselves or by with holding protection if we forget rule #1.

    Think it’s a wacky conspiricy theory Ralph? Ask a female friend what her worst memory of college was, I bet it wasn’t a hard class or failed exam, I bet it was trying to shut the door on the drunk dude wandering into her dorm room, or the condom left on her doormat or the “prank” when someone stole her undergarments. We tell these stories like dudes talk about camping trips that went wrong. Times that we survived a close encounter with the patriarchy.

  3. Fictional Queen

    The fear that many women have of insects and specially cockroaches (in my country) is completely rooted at sexism.From a young age girls are taught that being basically a scaredy cat is cute feminine behavior and also desirable,obviously.It makes women look like stupid,helpless children and makes men look all brave and strong and chivalrous (when they help women get rid of bugs).Little boys are told that “boys aren’t afraid of bugs” if they do get scared.
    It’s funny when I hear people blame women for displaying fear at the sight of bugs when they are criticizing this and saying that it’s learned behavior when it’s really not women’s fault at all.
    Also,a bit irrelavant but,as far as fear goes,I’ve heard that fear in women is a good quality and bravery isn’t encourageable,because fear makes them “modest” and prevents them from losing their dignity (which means getting sexually harrassed) while being brave makes you a big bad aggressive bitch,obviously.It was chilling.

  4. Ames

    As with other fetid swamps they don’t seem to mind, men don’t even notice the stench and detritus of the putrid abattoir that passes for human civilization. (That’s a great description for living in the P.)

  5. Blind Horse

    Ah, the poor little woman afraid of the scary buggies. Of course it’s a patriarchal ploy. This blamer had the great displeasure, just this morning (as part of my job as a project manager), to enter a bastion of patriarchy in the form of a police station, in order to check the progress my pipefitters had made on installing a new boiler in the basement. As I entered the secure area of the sacred temple of the penis, I was admonished to “not touch the guns down there” (you wish I would, don’t you pal?) and to “watch out for the buggies” i.e. the resident non-uniformed cockroaches. Yes, I know the way, and no, I don’t need an escort. Pissed me right off and it was only 7am.

  6. PandanCat

    Inspirational bug story of the day:

    When I was put in charge of a classroom of 5 year olds for some sort of special educational dealie, there was a cockroach emergency. Girls standing on chairs, boys screaming ‘Cockroach! Cockroach!’ and all that. I’m one of those delicate ladies who has fainting spells when bugs run amok, but as the responsible adult, I had to do something. I gingerly chased it hither and thither, getting closer to nausea with every undulation of its greasy antennae.

    Suddenly, a savior appeared. It was the tiniest girl in the class, wielding a long-handled dustpan. “Don’t worry, Ms. PandanCat! I’ll get it!” she chirped. I gave her the broom and she efficiently swept up the thing and marched it outside. When she sat back down at her little desk, her classmates were in awe, and she had such a look of satisfaction.

    I want to be her when I grow up.

  7. janicen

    “Boys will be boys” is one of the three cornerstones of patriarchy. The other two are “terrified chicks are hot,” “no means yes,” and “lighten up, can’t you take a joke?”

    I counted these on my fingers several times, and I’m reading four, rather than three cornerstones. Regardless, the “no means yes” cornerstone brought to mind the Yale University fraternity pledges who marched in the vicinity of the women’s dorms chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal”. I’m sure parents and students alike are delighted that they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for such a top-notch education.

  8. Solniger

    ugh yeah while there are some bugs that really creep me out (mostly because i’m afraid they will crawl into my mouth while I sleep), I have nothing against spiders whatsoever. They are good even, because they eat other bugs.

    Anyway, seen the news lately?


    trigger and rage alert

  9. tinfoil hattie

    “the three cornerstones of patriarchy” is code for:

    “There being an infinite number of patriarchal cornerstones, we will use ‘three’ as an amusing metaphor.”

  10. Eden

    @janicen, she did the same thing for the Komen article. Are you messing with us Jill?

    As for the patriarchy as conspiracy stuff- just ’cause you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Though in the case of men traditionally associated with the patriarchy/ mega-theocorpocracy it’s not that they’re out to get you so much as they care far more about profit and their own goals than with the silly idea that women are human. See pretty much every television show ever.

  11. yttik

    The thing about patriarchal enforced female fear is that it’s passive and illogical. If a spider really is a scary threat, than the healthy human response would be to charge it and squish it. The same would be true of men who are alleged to have uncontrollable and dangerous sexual urges. If this were really true, then the only healthy human response would be to squish them on sight.

    Of course women don’t get to do this, we must be constantly fearful, but also completely passive about it and never take any action to defend ourselves.

  12. EmilyBites

    Exactly, yttik. High-pitched screaming, for example – the purpose is to summon dudely help and make sure your glistening bosom is heaving appropriately in your torn shirt when the dude arrives.
    I wonder if screaming at spiders disorients them so that they’re more likely to run at you?

  13. wiggles

    Who hasn’t been in a situation where some dude grinned moronically expecting you to freak out when he discovered a large bug in your presence, and was then crestfallen when you unceremoniously squished the damn thing, the bug I mean.

  14. Treefinger

    ““Boys will be boys” is one of the three cornerstones of patriarchy. The other two are “terrified chicks are hot,” “no means yes,” and “lighten up, can’t you take a joke?” ”

    Hey, just a heads-up that you promised two further cornerstones and then gave us three (I wouldn’t complain about this generosity, only my pedantry has gotten the better of me).

    Great post as usual. The artist behind the pornified woman in the upper photo, in his haste to make every possible fetishizable body part available for ogling by his dudely audience, has neglected to put her in a standing/sitting/jumping into action position a human being might actually be able to accomplish. Ow.

  15. Treefinger

    I see others have already pointed the cornerstones thing out! Oh, when will I learn to actually read comments?

  16. Bushfire

    When I was a kid we had a cute little mouse run across the classrom once and several girls (ONLY girls) screamed and jumped onto their chairs. Even then, I had no idea what was so scary or why screaming or chair jumping would help with a mouse issue.

  17. Pansuit Sally

    Surely, were Ralph further pressed, he would insist that he has never engaged in sexism himself, because of course he believes that women are equal to men, so that right there proves that there is no such thing as an omnipresent system of gender-based oppression.

    Thank you for introducing me to the word “abattoir”. I come for the patriarchy blaming, I stay for the expanded vocabulary.

  18. Amberbug

    I remember at 6 years of age conquering the spider fear that my brothers had instilled in me. I remember the insult I felt at being expected to fear them (spiders), so I found a wolf spider, picked it up in my hand, and showed my brothers. They screamed.

  19. Josquin

    This post says it all. Thanks as always, Jill.
    Cthandhs: I am your new fan. Yes, my worst college memory sure does involve a man: …okay. I just now typed a description of what happened, but then I got upset, erased the words, felt sick and sad, and I just wish I could go back in time and kick him in his fucking head.

  20. amberbug

    Josquin, I would kick him in the head for you. Sorry you felt so sorry and sick remembering it.

  21. Hermionemone

    It may be worth pointing out that the spider in the porny miss muffet picture, is not drawn anatomically realistically (either).

  22. veganrampage

    “putrid abattoir.” Nice.

  23. JenniferRuth

    Patriarchy is the gnarly firmament of dominant culture, and nothing may exist outside it; therefore absolutely everything can be blamed on it.

    I got to write this on a post-it and stick it on my computer!

    I would love to be unafraid of spiders but the patriarchy-training is deeply instilled. Much like a lot (if not most) of patriarchy.

  24. Josquin

    Thank you, Amberbug.

  25. "Chad"

    From the doctrine that all humanities ills may be traced to the Patriarchy, wouldn’t it follow that either (a) in the absence of the Patriarchy humanity would have no more problems whatsoever or (b) in the absence of the Patriarchy we would have a new set of problems, problems which the Patriarchy had presumably been a solution to or (c) the Patriarchy is impossible to destroy.

    Each of these seems somehow implausible. Isn’t there something wrong that can’t be blamed on the dominant cultural context? Malaria for example, or entropy. I have perhaps misunderstood the definition of “blame”.

  26. Jill

    ” Chad”
    October 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    From the doctrine that […] I have perhaps misunderstood the definition of “blame”.

    Bite me, ” ” Chad”.”

    Also, what’s so “wrong” about entropy?

  27. Speedbudget

    Pfft. “Chad” comes into advanced patriarchy blaming and thinks he knows some shit. How about the continuing threat of frigging malaria even though it’s been proven only a dang bed screen is needed to impede the spread of it but governments can’t be bothered cause it’s just some poor brown people and there’s more where that came from amirite.

    Chad you need to read more. That Y chromosome doesn’t excuse you from research up in here.

  28. katrina

    Mild fear of arthropods is a good thing to have. Some of them can really hurt you. That’s why it’s also a bad idea to molest them and attack them.
    I was so disappointed to see my sister and my father perform the ritual where a woman asks a man to kill an arthropod or small mammal, or just makes a lot of noise until he does, thus demonstrating his masculinity. This man used to butcher a sheep and thrust its still-warm lungs into my hands, saying “give that to the dogs, will you”, so I didn’t expect him to endorse feminine squeamishness.
    But he did. At my sister’s request, he tried to kill a spider for her. Only it was a poisonous spider and he tried to use a bare finger. The spider was faster than he was; he emitted a strange, high-pitched squeal, then went very quiet and nursed his bitten hand for quite some time.

    I would like to see the same happen to everyone who participates in such rituals.

  29. "Chad"

    Entropy is bad because it limits the efficiency of the abstract heat engines which I would otherwise use to oppress women.
    In my heart, I am biting you.

    I apologize for proposing poor examples. I am quite willing to concede that most of the problems facing us are the product of a defective cultural framework, and that this cultural framework is based on the subjugation of the weak by the strong and in particular of women by men. I am afraid you have missed my point.

  30. veganrampage

    Dear “chad”,

    I’m going to tell you the three rules I tell my brother-in-law.

    Rule 1. Fuck you
    Rule 2. Shut up
    Rule 3. Shut the fuck up.

    Repeat until embossed upon brain.


  31. late to the party

    Not to mention what a great number of male spiders DO to female spiders http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traumatic_insemination ,
    that picture is damn near explicit.

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